The first traditional dish one thinks of when Japan is mentioned is, without a doubt, ramen. It’s the most iconic noodle soup dish in the whole country — it’s so reputable that Japanese ramen restaurants have expanded to countries even on the other side of the globe!
There are four main types of ramen: shio (塩, salt-based), shoyu (醤油, soy sauce-based), miso (soybean paste-flavoured) and tonkotsu (豚骨, pork bone broth). Each of them have their own unique flavours and rich history that can’t be compared to another.
A tourist’s first order of business when in Japan is to devour a bowl of delicious, authentic Japanese ramen from the best ramen shops in the country. Little did they know that the streets of Japan are packed with noodle shops that will make the decision-making process a harder endeavour than one expected it to be.
Luckily for you, you’ve come to the right place — here we review the top 5 ramen spots in Japan’s capital city, Tokyo! Read on to find out what these ramen shops are.
On the first of the list is the famous Michelin star ramen restaurant, Nakiryu. This noodle shop has been awarded a Michelin star for five consecutive years straight — that’s definitely saying something. What’s more, they’re the second Japanese ramen restaurant to earn such a highly-regarded award! That’s not all — the owner of this shop used to work at a famous restaurant in Hong Kong that was also awarded a Michelin star!
With such a high level of popularity, expect to wait for at least two hours during lunchtime on the weekends. Your safest bet is going during the weekdays where there is less of a crowd. Regardless, it’s definitely worth every second’s wait.
The most highly recommended item at Nakiryu is the restaurant’s special shoyu ramen. Simple in terms of visual but rest assured it’s more than what it seems. The ramen bowl is topped with three kinds of chashu (チャーシュ, barbecued pork) made from various parts cooked in different methods. There’s also shrimp wonton, a half-boiled egg and completed with some homemade bamboo shoots. Every single ingredient complements the other perfectly, and ultimately blending seamlessly in your tastebuds!
Nearest Station: JR Otsuka Station, 5-minute walk
Address: 2-34-10, Minamiohtsuka, Toshima-ku, Tokyo 1700005, Japan
Opening Hours: 11:30-15:00, 18:00-21:00 (On Mondays, 11:30-15:00)
Telephone Number: +81 03-6304-1811
2. Ginza Kagari Honten
Looking for the creamiest and richest ramen in all of Tokyo? Ginza Kagari Honten is the place you should head to! It was mentioned in the Michelin guide a few years ago as a Bib Gourmand and has gained popularity dramatically ever since. Just like the neighbourhood it’s in, this ramen restaurant is refined and pristine, complete with beautiful presentations of food and well-thought-out interior design.
Ginza Kagari Honten offers quite a few variations of noodle dishes. For first-timers, the special ramen is your best choice. During your following visits, try their famous chicken bone soup called the tori paitan — it’s definitely one dish that will have a special place in your heart (or belly).
Be prepared to queue for at least an hour; Ginza Kagari Honten is pretty highly regarded. Weekdays are probably best to avoid the huge crowd.
Nearest Station: Ginza Station
Address: 6 Chome-4-12 Ginza, Chuo City, Tokyo 104-0061
Opening Hours: 11:00-15:00, 17:30-22:00
Venture out of central Tokyo, away from the hustles and bustles of the city, for a delicious bowl of ramen at Ushio. The neighbourhood this ramen restaurant offers oasis amidst the eccentric ambiance of Japan’s capital city. It does get rather busy during lunchtime, but other than that you won’t really have to wait so long for a seat.
The highly recommended dish is the Nihon-ichi shoyu soba ramen. The soup is made from aged unpasteurized soy sauce, enhanced with high-grade kelp from Hokkaido. The combination makes it one of the best soups in all of Tokyo, full of umami richness. The standard toppings are there, but there are also the additional smoked duck meat slices that give the ramen dish a unique factor.
Don’t think it’s too far out — take the chance of going to Ushio to explore the quiet side of Tokyo.
Nearest Station: Awajicho Station, 1-minute walk
Address: 2-4-4 Kandaawaji-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 1010063, Japan
Opening Hour: 11:00-19:00
Telephone Number: +81 03-6206-9322
4. Menya Musashi
If you want a conveniently located ramen shop that’s a step up above the rest, Menya Musashi is the ramen restaurant you’re looking for. They have about 10 chain stores all around Tokyo metropolitan areas itself including the busy Shinjuku. Even with a few shops all around the country, every single one of them is always seen with a queue coming out of them during peak hours — their ramen dishes are that good.
The ramen at Menya Musashi is made with the perfect blend of chicken, pork and fish broth. Try the signature ramen bowl, complete with chunky chashu slices and half-boiled eggs. Take a step up and opt for the tsukemen dipping noodles that provides a different but unique ramen experience.
They’re extremely affordable as well, so what are you waiting for?
Nearest Station: Seibu-Shinjuku Station, 1-minute walk
Address: 〒160-0023 Tokyo, Shinjuku City, Nishishinjuku, 7 Chome−2−6 西新宿Ｋ－１ビル 1F
Opening Hours: 11:00-22:30
Telephone Number: +81 03-3363-4634
5. Toripaitan Kageyama
Just a four-minute walk from the nearest station, this ramen restaurant is a hidden gem. Locals near and far travel here especially for Toipaitan Kageyama’s amazing ramen dishes. Their specialty is no doubt tori paitan — a kind of ramen dish made of white, thick soup with chicken. The one at this ramen restaurant is a perfect balance of richness and refreshing.
Managed by the high-class Chinese restaurant, Kageyamaro, with the cook formerly the chef of that restaurant as well, there’s no doubt this shop provides only high-quality dishes. Noodles are by Tokyo’s famous noodle makers called Asakusa Kaikaro — what other highly reputable sources can one ramen shop have?
Toripaitan Kageyama’s ramen dishes have lemon served alongside them. It might be a little strange to have a citrusy taste in ramen, but trust me, you won’t regret it. I recommend eating half the soup without the lemon first and then adding it after — this way, you’ll get the best of both worlds!
Nearest Station: Takadanobaba Station, 4-minute walk
Address: 1 Chome-4-18 Takadanobaba, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 169-0075
Opening Hours: 11:00-23:00
Telephone Number: +81 03-6457-3160
With this carefully curated list of best ramen spots in Tokyo — all of them at different areas in the city — you’re not going to be out of options while you’re out on your adventures. Each with their own specialty, one cannot be compared to the other. So the best way to know which one’s best for you is to try them all! How about it — go on a ramen-hopping adventure when you’re in Japan!